Cancer Journey Continues
I am in a countdown mode. In 61 days, it will be 1 year since my husband’s original cancer diagnosis. It was at that time last July that I deemed the year 2015 dead to me. So much happened last year with people losing loved ones, bad news, and just so much stress all around, that I was just done. I figured that 2016 just had to be better.
We embarked on this hard journey, determined to make it through together. He exceeded all expectations. Throughout radiation, he pretty much took himself to treatment so he could work after. On chemotherapy days, he did take the day off, mainly because the treatment prep made him too sleepy. He endured having a jejunostomy tube, even though he hated it. This man fought to keep his life normal.
Surgery was greatly anticipated. He almost did not go through with it. He was feeling better, was surgery worth it? Turns out, it was, because of the size of his remaining tumor. All of this happened before the end of 2015.
Today marks 195 days post esophagectomy with gastric pull through done via a laparoscopic Ivor Lewis procedure. That, currently, holds the place as the longest day of my life. I barely held it together, even with my in-laws there to support both their son and me.
Even after surgery, he was awesome. He was grumpy and irritated but determined to get back to life. It only took him 2 and 1/2 weeks to get back to work. We thought he was doing spectacular.
The first hiccup in all of his progress came when he needed his first dilation. His first thought was fear that the cancer was back and in his throat. Nothing reduced his worry until after the dilation and he was reassured by his doctor. Back to normal.
Figuring out what foods work for him or don’t was a challenge. As was sleeping upright in a recliner. Luckily, we have a dual recliner couch, so we have been able to stay together in the same room at night.
Now he has had a total of 3 dilations. It was after this most recent one that he began to have major problems. He dealt with severe and increasing constipation, severe nausea, bile reflux, heaving and vomiting. No medication seemed to help. No OTC treatments. They tried treating him for OIC, which kind of worked, then stopped.
When the medication for OIC stopped helping his constipation and started just sending him into withdrawal, we knew something else was wrong. Something has to be going one. Finally, he was admitted to try and get some relief. It was during that impatient stay that our lives received another blow.
Today, it has been 11 days since the diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer. If I can be honest, that day absolutely crushed me. Pretty sure the husband knows that, even though we never really discussed it. I know that he will eventually read this as well.
After his diagnosis this time, we did not know what the future would hold. Every day immediately became the most important day. Even if we did nothing, even if it was only a routine day and we had each other’s company. He is so worried about me, about after he is gone. I really just encourage him to help me plan, but remind him, that he needs to live every day he is here. I will support whatever choice he makes, whether that choice is to fight or be done.
On Monday, 5/9/16, he had doctor appointments, and at that time he was re-admitted to the hospital. This allowed them to address his constipation again, try to get him some relief. They also set the plan in motion to start his chemotherapy and TPN, and did.
For 8 days he was inpatient. By the end he was going stir crazy. He is home now! He came home yesterday, and we started TPN at home. The VNA set him up the first night. I set him up tonight. They will check on us, unless there is a problem before, probably Friday. He is still taking in clear liquids by mouth as tolerated. And the biggest joy is that the chemotherapy may have already begun to work as he has not been constipated in about 5 or 6 days now!
He will be getting a PET scan on Thursday. They changed his opiates during his inpatient stay and he seems to have better control now. We see his oncologist Friday. Next week will be his second round of chemo. He will go in on Wednesday to begin, come home with a pump, and return on Friday to have it removed.
He has also begun to talk about a second opinion. Stage 4 Peritoneal Carcinomatosis is basically a death sentence. That is what his Esophageal Cancer has become. We want every opportunity to have him live as long as possible. He plans on beating the odds here, too. Until then, we are day by day.
So, until something else happens, we will continue to support each other. Our dynamic is changing. The focus for him is on making sure I will be okay for the eventual after. My focus is on making sure he knows I will not abandon him and on keeping him going daily.
Short term, my hope is that he makes it 6 months to our anniversary. We want to do a vow renewal for 10 years. Long term, I hope he does beat every prognosis that is thrown at him. Day by day!